Unlike Christmas and other winter holidays, Hanukkah’s date changes every year. This year, it is much earlier than the other winter holidays, and it will begin at sundown on November 28th and end at sundown on December 6th, 2021.
Hanukkah is the “Festival of Lights”- the celebration of a miracle in which the Maccabees thought they only had enough oil to provide light for one night and it lasted them for eight. This is why the holiday lasts eight days. The holiday is celebrated on the same day in the Hebrew Calendar, which is different from the one that is commonly used in the US. Regardless of the date, Hanukkah will always last eight days.
One of the most important traditions in Hanukkah is lighting the menorah. The menorah has nine candle holders, one for each night plus the helper candle called the Shamash. Jewish families sing the blessing and light the candles, adding one each night.
“We light the candles every night. On the last night we turn the lights off and enjoy the glow of the Menorah,” senior Dana Aument said.
Another important part of the Hanukkah celebrations is the special food.
“My favorite Hanukkah tradition is to make potato pancakes with my family. We celebrate by having traditional food,” junior Ava Edwards said.
Some traditional foods are latkes (potato pancakes), Sufganiyot (jelly doughnuts), and chocolate gelt. The chocolate gelt is used as a token in the traditional game of dreidel. Each player spins the dreidel to determine how much of the delicacy they win or lose.
Hanukkah is traditionally celebrated with family and friends, but in the year of the Coronavirus pandemic, celebrations looked a little different than in years past.
“Last year, I had to celebrate at home without my other family members,” said Edwards.
Some people celebrated by lighting the candles over zoom or facetime call, and others found new, safe ways to see their families.
“Usually, one night we go over to my grandparent’s house and celebrate there. Last year, we ended up celebrating outside for safety reasons,” said Aument.
With vaccine availability and life somewhat returning to normal, hopefully, people will be able to enjoy the holiday with their loved ones yet again.
Here at Marriotts Ridge, The Celebrating Jewish Culture Club (CJCC) is celebrating the holiday by holding a special meeting.
“We are putting together a Chanukah celebration after school on Wednesday, December 1, in the cafeteria. There will be latkes and gelt, and a dreidel spinning tournament,” said faculty advisor Ms. Goldszmidt.
Ms. Goldszmidt encourages students to participate in the celebration and the club regardless of religious affiliation.
“The club is open to all. We will talk about the Jewish religion and its traditions,” said Goldszmidt.
From lighting the Menorah to special club meetings and spending time with family, Hanukkah celebrations this year are likely to be extremely enjoyable. Happy Hanukkah Mustangs!